August 24, 2012 – Summer Update 2012 Newsletter
In This Issue
- Engineering Marvel
- More Money
- Staying in the National Spotlight
- Current CREATE Project Status
- Summer Construction Tour
CREATE’s largest and most complex grade separation project (GS15a) has been under construction for one year as of May. Construction progress is currently just over 30% and is on schedule for completion by early 2015. This $168 million project on Chicago’s far south side will eliminate the at-grade crossings of the two Norfolk Southern main tracks with 130th Street and Torrence Avenue. The roadway-rail separation is accomplished by lowering the elevations of 130th Street and Torrence Avenue so the roads will fit under two new bridges for the Norfolk Southern Railroad as well as a third bridge for the South Shore Line commuter railroad (operated by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, NICTD). The project will also realign Brainard Avenue to the east to form a continuous roadway with 130th Street, which will eliminate a signalized intersection and significantly improve traffic flow in the area.
The GS15a project is particularly notable for the number and size of bridge structures it involves: three railroad bridges, one roadway bridge, and two pedestrian and bicycle bridges. In fall of this year, the project will reach one of its most impressive milestones – an extraordinarily large structural lift. A 400-foot steel truss girder bridge that will carry NICTD’s commuter trains will be lifted into place over the course of one weekend! The utilization of Prefabricated Bridge Elements & Systems technology will significantly reduce the construction impacts to the traveling public and the impact on freight operation. This innovative technology has been featured as one of the best “Every Day Counts” initiatives by the Federal Highway Administration in its annual report.
The CREATE partners thank the many state legislators, civic, and business supporters who rallied in support of House Bill 4568 which was passed by the Illinois General Assembly and will authorize $211 million in previously-appropriated CREATE funding from Governor Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! state capital program. On June 22, the CREATE Partners were awarded $10.4 million in TIGER IV funds. The partners are extremely thankful to the over 25 organizations, businesses and elected officials who submitted support letters for the TIGER IV application.
The partners emphasized that combined, these funds will complete 15 critical projects important to freight, passenger, and commuter rail services, as well as address the Illinois Commerce Commission’s #1 priority grade separation project, GS6. In addition, this authorization will trigger up to $155 million in additional funding from the railroads and millions in matching federal investments. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, this package of projects is forecast to support 3,300 jobs.
Staying in the National Spotlight
In mid-April the CREATE Partners gave a tour to FHWA Administrator Victor Mendez and FHWA Division Administrators from across the Northern Region. They toured UP’s Proviso Railyard and CREATE Project B2. Access to the railyard will be improved and potential delays to Metra UP West commuter trains will be reduced by this project, which is currently under construction. This project is partially funded with a TIGER I grant.
In late April, the partners led a tour for FHWA Deputy Administrator Greg Nadeau of several CREATE projects under construction. Sites they visited included: the 130th & Torrence grade separation, the B2 improvements near Proviso Yard, the Englewood Flyover and the TIGER viaduct improvements at 79th and Greenwood in the City of Chicago.
On May 8th The New York Times published an article by infrastructure correspondent John Schwartz entitled “Freight Train Late? Blame Chicago.” Mr. Schwartz vividly and succinctly described the rail congestion issues facing the Chicago region, impacts on the national economy, and how CREATE is fixing the problem.
On May 24th the North American Rail Shippers Association held its annual meeting in Chicago and invited the CREATE partners to discuss the CTCO operations and an update on the CREATE program.
Current CREATE Project Status
Summer Construction Tour
On June 25th, 50 civic, business and legislative stakeholders took a tour of CREATE projects under construction this summer. Tour participants viewed Project B2 that will add a third main line, a flyover connecting the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad to Proviso Yard, and a pedestrian underpass at Metra-UPW Bellwood Station.